'The Enemy Within'
Based on Dr. Corky Becker, Public Conversations Project
A difficult conversation can trigger in us
protective but unhelpful reactions.
Our brains are wired to actively watch out for dangers
and by that at times prevent us from creating constructive interactions.
When there’s a lot at stake and we feel under attack,
our brain releases hormones to make us hyper-alert,
with Physical Effects such as: a racing heart or sweaty palms.
At the same time our brain triggers Psychological Effects
and can initiate that our capacity to think shuts down.
We have three areas in our brain that play very different roles in our reactions.
Which of them takes charge in us depends on our level of perceived threat.
Our Survival Center aims to keep us safe. It prompts our flight-fight-freeze response to danger.
Our Emotional Center gives meaning to our feelings. It can “replay” responses to dangerous experiences of the past during harmless situations.
Our Logic Center is the most evolved part of our brain. It enables us to pause before we act, focus our attention, cultivate empathy, and develop insights.
When our ‘Logic Center’ is active and in charge, our brain is at its most effective and is able to reflect, organize, and be creative.
Yet, when we feel extreme threat our ‘Survival Center’ hijacks our thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
In the survival state, we cannot access our thinking brain;
and we are unable to listen and learn.
Our higher brain shuts down and we are
not receptive to new information.
So our capacity for constructive exchange is sharply compromised!
Our Times are complex and we have to cultivate our capacity
to listen to and understand multiple perspectives.
Instead of attacking, withdrawing, or going silent,
we need to be able to manage our perceptions of dangers
in order to be able to cooperate and solve problems.